Briefer and Deeper: A Comparative Analysis of Depth-Oriented Psychotherapy

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Briefer and Deeper: A Comparative Analysis of Depth-Oriented Psychotherapy


The use of psychotherapy in decidedly time-limited contexts is the hallmark of modern trends toward maximizing effectiveness and minimizing costs in the realm of health and mental health treatment. Although clients have historically utilized therapy for brief intervals (an average of 8 sessions), the use of models designed for this purpose is comparatively new. There is an ever-widening breadth of approaches - both formerly long-term designs modified to require fewer sessions and those born with the goal of brevity.

Despite the diversity in brief psychotherapy (BPT) approaches, each therapy tends to be based on similar fundamental assumptions and general themes. For example, it is widely believed that a skillful therapist can affect useful changes in the lives of clients - changes that continue to build long after the treatment ends (Messer & Warren, 1995). These therapies also include root metaphors or ideas of where human difficulty arises, a set of curative factors, and an image of what it means to be mentally healthy (Borden, 1999).

Finally, in an effort to address client issues briefly, the articulation of a clinical focus is seen as essential and can range from present day relational problems to underlying struggles with drives and anxiety - depending on the theoretical orientation. In comparison, Bruce Ecker and Laurel Hulley's Depth-Oriented Brief Psychotherapy (DOBT) model presents a slight variation to what has become the customary brief approach. DOBT is composed of techniques organized around the idiosyncratic, unconsciously held meanings of each client. Thus, there is no set formula or core dilemma to be address...

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...ard theoretical pluralism in clinical practice. Most importantly, however, is DOBT's reassuring techniques which allows its clients a new, more coherent knowledge of themselves which leads to a deep and exquisite form of healing.


Borden, W. (1999). "Pluralism, pragmatism, and the therapeutic endeavor in brief dynamic treatment. W. Borden (Ed.) The therapeutic endeavor in brief dynamic treatment: Theory, research, practice, commentary. Haworth Press, New York.

Ecker, B. & Hulley, L. (1996). Depth-oriented brief therapy: How to be brief when you were trained to be deep and vice-versa. Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco.

Ecker, B. & Hulley, L. (1999). Depth-oriented brief therapy. [Online]. Available:

Messer, S. & Warren, C. (1995). Models of brief psychodynamic therapy: A comparative approach. The Guildford Press, New York.
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